By Katie Prejean McGrady
Wife, Mother, Author, Speaker
Nearly every morning, on the way to school, my three-year-old daughter shouts from the backseat, “Wook at the sky, mom!”
The orange-pink glow of the sky is uniquely beautiful, a view that captivates us as we take the exit for Enterprise Boulevard and turn onto a pothole riddled street lined with gorgeous hundred-year-old oak trees.
Mesmerized by the sunrise, Rose will often tell me how much she loves looking at the sky. Blissfully unaware of the sun, my four-month-old daughter, Clare, babbles, screams, or sleeps in her car seat, while I, driving, sip my hopefully still warm coffee and marvel at the majesty of this mundane moment.
That we have a sunrise to gaze upon at all is a miracle. That we notice and appreciate it is another miracle, too. And that we have the chance to be here, with beating hearts, and buzzing brains – miraculous as well.
What a profound thing to say.
We are here. Existing. Breathing. Learning. Speaking. Choosing. Loving. Living.
And each moment of this life, the mundane moments, the overwhelming ones, those out of the ordinary, or the ones simple as can be, are moments wherein we can recall the majesty, grandeur, and goodness of the creator who gives and sustains this life.
We open the Bible and the first lines invite us to ponder a marvelous moment, that in the beginning – when there was literally nothing but him – God spoke into being all there is before us. He called into being the light, crafting the very same sun that I now look at each morning. And every time I see that sun, or feel the wind blowing, or hear the sounds of music echoing, taste a delicious meal, watch my children drift off to sleep – in each moment of this life, I’m reminded that none of this, not a single bit of it, had to happen.
It is entirely unnecessary, but also not just a random accident. It was – it is – a precise, thoughtful, intentional life that we can live because God chose for us to live it. He chose to create.
God, infinite and perfect in and of himself, did not need to create anything. He’s in want of nothing. God does not need the sun so he can see, or food to eat so he can have energy, or eight hours of sleep in a pitch dark, 68-degree room so he can function in the morning. He needs none of those things that we rely on.
Nor did he need you and I, with our failures and flaws and doubts and dumb decisions.
And yet here is that sun and here I am staring at it, with my children staring at it too.
Creation, and all of life itself, is a remarkable gift, and we would do well to ponder the beautiful reality that God created not out of necessity, but out of abundant, unfettered, generous love.
He wanted to do it.
As simplistic and childish as it may sound – God wanted to share.
He wanted light to shine and a chill to nip through the air. He wanted giraffes with their long necks and purple tongues and elephants with their giant feet and tiny tails to wander the plains. He wanted sunrises and sunsets to color the sky, fluffy clouds peppered throughout the brilliant blue background. He wanted food to fill our stomachs, music to ring through our ears, the smell of fresh baked cookies to waft through the house, a warm blanket to wrap around our shoulders.
God spoke the words, “Let there be…” and things came into being. Something, from nothing, save for his voice into the literal darkness. The first few chapters of Genesis tell us this story of the God who created, who spoke things into existence, and placed man in the middle of it all to have mastery over it. This first book of Scripture invites us to contemplate this remarkable mystery of creation. It isn’t just a story to read passively. It’s a miracle to ponder. We read of God speaking light into being, of creating birds of the air, fish of the sea, all manner of creepy-crawly things. And then we hear of God forming, out of the dust of the earth, man – in his image and likeness, breathing into him the very breath of life, setting him apart from everything else he made. And then, making for man a companion, someone his equal to stand beside him, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.
This is not merely a child’s fairy tale we recite to offer simplistic comfort that all this stuff surrounding us didn’t just appear randomly. This is the story of God’s awesome power, a snapshot of what only he can do: create something from nothing. But, the book of Genesis is not a science textbook either. Of course, anything is possible for God, but the manner or timeframe in which he spoke all of creation into being is irrelevant when understanding the Book of Genesis. The story is not meant to be read as a factual recitation of God’s creation to-do list. It is a story meant to invite us into wonder and awe at how and why God creates, but not precisely the mechanism of doing it.
But because our world has lost its sense of wonder and awe, many write it off. They claim it to be fiction. They insist it’s a factual retelling, not a powerful allegory, and simply claim that it could never happen, so it must be ignored. How pitiful, to walk through life assuming everything around us was pure accident, and not a purposefully crafted physical world, made for you and me. As people of faith, we read this story of creation, pouring over these words in Scripture, with eyes of faith, with hearts open to the mystery, with a mind ready to be shaped by God’s good power.
We can read Genesis with knowledge that it is true, simply because everything around us gives evidence that God did create, and did so for us to be swept up in his power and love. The Book of Genesis, and the exploration and explanation of God’s creative power, brings us into the mystery of God’s love. We learn of a love that could not help but create. A love of us, love for us, love that is meant to be given back.
We read Genesis, reciting it almost from memory because it is so familiar, and are not only aware of what God did, or even how he did it, but are told why. God created all of this, and created man, so that we can delight in this created world, be shocked by its goodness, overwhelmed with its grandeur, and love God in return the same way he has loved us.
Genesis tells us of this created world, made by a generous and loving creator, existing for you and I to taste, smell, see, touch, and hear our way through it, and we are compelled to love with our whole hearts the very God who tells us this story.
God didn’t simply create and plop us into creation. He created it all, made us, set us here, and then tells us how and why he did so. He wants us to know him, and know all of this! He could not keep it to himself, neither the creating or the telling of the creating! And hearing that – knowing that – inspires us to love him in return.
It is all here – you, and I, and even the very story of creation we hear – because of the abundant and perfect love of the Lord that could not be contained.
We can’t reflect on the Gospel without first contemplating this mystery of God’s love compelling him to create. To fully meditate upon the mystery of God living and dying and resurrecting for us, a project we should all undertake, we have to first think on the creative power of the one who lived, died, and rose from the dead. If we want to orient our lives to be centered entirely around his love and plan for our salvation, we have to first recall that we are saved in this created world, spoken into being, where that same Word spoken came to dwell among us.
As we drive to school and look at the sunrise each morning, I marvel at the gorgeous hues of pink and orange, the occasional purple or red splashing against the clouds. And I am enamored with the little girls sitting in the backseat, thinking thoughts and making noise, their lives a snapshot of God’s goodness and creative power. I delight in the 80’s music pumping through the stereo that makes us all dance in our seats. I breathe a sigh of thanks as the hot coffee wakes me up. I rejoice in the gift of the classmates my daughter will spend her day with, and I rest in the reality that all of it – every little thing surrounding me, from the bright beaming sun to the tiny baby sitting behind me, exists because God wants it to exist. He created it all – he spoke it all into being – purely out of love for you and for me, making a perfect gift of himself.
Count it all as grace that we are here, and it is good that we are, because it is what God wants most of all. And because of his desire for us, we cannot help but love him back.
Katie Prejean McGrady is an international Catholic speaker and award-winning author. She writes regularly for Catholic News Service, Blessed is She, and Our Sunday Visitor, and is the host of Ave Explores, a podcast and multimedia program from Ave Maria Press. Katie lives in Lake Charles, La., with her husband, Tommy, and daughters, Rose and Clare.